What did you think of the story when you first read the script?
I was very moved. You have to remember that when you read a script you are reading it through your own lens. The director reads it and his own lens. What he pulled out wasn’t what I pulled out. There was a lot more family and a lot less stupid cheerleader. It had a little more context. You knew what his deal was. You didn’t just watch him [Billy Lynn] be doe-eyed through the whole movie.
The film was shot at 120 frames per second in 3D resolution and at 4k HD resolution. Did director Ang Lee tell you to act differently because of the new technology?
He sure did. It was as if you were acting under a microscope as opposed to a magnifying glass. Everything had to be small, small, small. He was the eye and would come over and say “Less! Less! That could be less!”
Was the difficult for you as an actor?
Only if I had been doing eight shows a week on Broadway and I’m filling a twelve hundred seat house. I rarely get television work while doing a play because it is so in your body “TO SPEAK AS I AM NOW!” [Laughs] as opposed to [whispers].
What was it like to work alongside Kristen Stewart?
Oh my gosh! She is fantastic. I didn’t watch the Twilight movies so I only knew her [from being in the] press... Boy! What a pro! A great person. Surprisingly down to Earth. What a pro. I can’t say enough nice things about that kid.
What about the rest of the actors?
Wonderful! When you’re working with Ang Lee people are pretty much happy. They are happy to be there.
Do you think the film shows an honest depiction of how the people back home are viewing the war compared to what is actually happening on the ground with the soldiers?
I think it is completely honest. I think it was extremely fair. It does nothing but show commercialisation of war and the exploitation of soldiers.
The screening you attended was one of the few shown in 120 frames per second. What was it like?
In all honesty I didn’t know what to expect but my mind, without being able to articulate it, expected something other than what I saw. Having said that, it was pretty awesome. Ang’s intention when he was doing this was always to make the audience a character in the film. So there wasn’t a separation between the screen and them, like they could really feel like they were in the story. That was his intention. And I think it is effective that way and it was my experience in terms of the quality of the film.
The film was quite badly treated upon release in terms of showing the 120fps version. I believe there were only a handful of showings of the 120fps version in the US. In the UK we never saw that version at all. Instead we received a 60fps version. It is a shame the way the film has been treated especially as it was embracing new technology.
I think it will be taught in film school. I don’t know if it will be in this specific form, I think they will perfect it somehow. Definitely the future is virtual reality.
What was it like seeing yourself in 120fps?
It was fine. Pretty much my whole role got cut out apart from a couple of things. So I didn’t get to have the full experience.
So what didn’t we see with your character, Denise Lynn (Billy’s mother)?
That whole dinner scene, that there was about two minutes of, was... you found out what happened to the father, you found out that the father had been having an affair, you found out they were flat broke and that’s why he went into the Army. You also found out that he was the sole breadwinner. You found out the whole story about the accident with the scare with her [Kathryn Lynn] and that’s why he went into the Army. There was all this stuff. I feel like it really gave depth to his story. I think it made all the people, like the father’s story, fascinating. The father and Billy got into a big tiff over dinner, which made another interesting thing. Kristen’s character in the book and screenplay had more of an arc as well. Every story went by the wayside and it became about the technology.
Were you disappointed with the film? Or the reception it received?
Both. If the first had been different then the second would have been different. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that in... that was my experience. I’m sure there are people who flipped out over it. That wasn’t my experience [of seeing it]. I think had it been a little bit more emotionally accessible it would have found an audience.
Would you work with Ang Lee again?
No never [laughs]. C’mon! Yes of course.